The 2012 Volt sales were 23,461 which surpassed by a wide margin the 2011 sales of 7,671. As reported, Californians were responsible for more than half of the 2012 sales. The HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes now allow the Volt even if there is only one person in the vehicle. Initially, the Volt emission levels weren’t low enough when operating on gasoline to qualify for driving in the HOV lanes. This problem was corrected. If you have ever driven in California, you know just how packed roads can be out there.
My wife and I have been driving South several times a year. We use the HOV lanes when driving south out of Washington, DC, around Charlotte, North Carolina and through downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Two things are noticeable; one is that we hardly have to slow down from normal interstate driving speeds and the other is that ours is often the only vehicle in the HOV lane. The vast, and I mean vast majority of the cars, trucks, etc, have only one person in the them. I can understand the allure that driving in the HOV lane must have in Los Angles.
In addition GM worked up an attractive leasing program for the Volt. According to Money.CNN website:”….. the Volt has also been helped by aggressive leasing incentives offered in 2012. Last year, GM was offering the car for $289 a month with a $2,800 down payment. That was far less than a car with the Volt’s nearly $40,000 purchase price would ordinarily lease for, even factoring in a $7,500 plug-in car tax credit.”
The Nissan Leaf improved over last years sales by about 1.5% with total 2012 sales of about 9,800 vehicles.
The sales of the Volt, along with the Toyota Prius are the most successful hybrids on the market, are really not that impressive when you consider 2012 total vehicle sales in the US of 14.5 million. EVs, like the Leaf, are even less impressive. My guess is that gasoline prices are not going to skyrocket in the near term because of the continued world-wide recession and the introduction of a lot of new fossil fuels from fracking. Low fuel prices will depress hybrid and EV sales. And one has to wonder how long GM will be willing to subsidize the Volt.